Who Knows “Uno”? The Many Sephardi Versions of a Passover Song

The counting song “Eḥad mi yodei’a” (Who Knows One?), sung toward the very end of the seder, has been a standard element in Ashkenazi Haggadahs since at least the 16th century. It does not appear in most Sephardi versions of the Haggadah, but there are exceptions. In a few local traditions (like that of the Jews of Rhodes), it is generally sung in Ladino, with words somewhat different from the standard Hebrew text. Ty Alhadeff explains. (Audio recordings are included at the link below.)

[A]n exploration of . . . audio recordings of “Ken Supiense” [as the song is called in Ladino]—not only from Rhodes but also from other locales in the former Ottoman empire, including Salonica and present-day Turkey—reveals a wide variety . . . in the song’s wording and melody.

All versions of “Eḥad Mi Yodei’a,” whether in Hebrew or in Yiddish or Ladino translation, agree that, among the thirteen canonical references enumerated in the song, the number one always refer to one God and five always refers to the five books of the Torah. But there are some major variations among the Ladino versions. . . . Perhaps one of the most intriguing differences can be discerned in the varied references in the final, thirteenth, verse. The Rhodesli and Turkish versions do not refer to the thirteen attributes of God’s mercy as the original Hebrew text does, but rather to the renowned medieval sage Moses Maimonides’ thirteen principles of faith. . . .

The specific importance of these thirteen principles in the Sephardi tradition is reflected in the Ladino saying: está en sus treje (literally, “he is standing on his thirteen”), which refers to someone who is strong in his faith. According to [a] popular legend, . . . this expression dates back to the days of the Spanish Inquisition, when an inquisitor would ask of someone suspected of practicing Judaism in secret: “Está en su treje?” meaning: would a person abandon or stay steadfast in his belief in the thirteen principles of faith?

Read more at Stroum Center for Jewish Studies

More about: Haggadah, Ladino, Passover, Religion & Holidays, Rhodes, Sephardim

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University